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    Press Release No: UNIS/SG/2655
    Release Date:    8 September 2000
     Secretary-General’s Message Marking International Day 
    For Preservation of Ozone Layer

    16 September 2000

    NEW YORK, 7 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of International Ozone Day, celebrated on 16 September: 

    Promoting better standards of life for all human beings is one of the values on which the United Nations was built.  As we move into the twenty-first century, it becomes clearer that in order to improve living conditions, we must protect the natural environment and resources that allow us to survive on earth. By permitting environmentally devastating practices to continue, we are handing our children a bleak and hazardous future. 

    Today, we have an opportunity to focus global attention and action on the conservation of the ozone layer.  This natural, protective gift of the earth screens out the sun’s ultraviolet rays that are harmful to people, animals and plants.  Maintaining this barrier between the sun and the earth is essential to human survival. 

    The Beijing Declaration, adopted during the meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in December 1999, reaffirmed the commitment of 175 governments, international organizations, industries, and other relevant groups to achieve the phase-out of the chemicals that destroy our stratospheric ozone layer.  The agreement has been successful since its inception; many countries have made impressive progress in phasing out the consumption of ozone-depleting substances.  Without this strong adherence to the Protocol, the levels of ozone-damaging substances would have been five times higher than they are today.  The success of the Montreal Protocol shows clearly what can be accomplished when nations and international organizations cooperate and work together towards a common goal.

    However, we cannot afford to be complacent.  The remarkable progress achieved so far must continue until we are absolutely certain that the ozone layer will be protected.  Attention must now shift from industrialized countries, which have led the way in lowering chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) output, to developing countries, which must phase out the production of CFC emissions by 2010, the deadline imposed by the Montreal Protocol.  Only the full and continued compliance of both developed and developing nations with the Protocol will ensure complete recovery of the ozone layer.

    I applaud this year’s theme for International Ozone Day, “Save Our Sky: Protect Yourself; Protect the Ozone Layer”.  It is a reminder that the future of our planet as well as humankind is in our hands.  I appeal to governments, industry, organizations and citizens all over the world to support the goals of International Ozone Day by promoting activities that will raise public and political awareness of this issue.  Through education efforts, public cooperation, and pledges to use only ozone-friendly chemicals and products, we can make a huge difference in protecting both our earth’s and our own health, and in establishing higher standards of life for future generations on this planet.

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